Two key names showed up on the Green Bay Packers’ injury report on Friday: safety Morgan Burnett and inside linebacker Brad Jones.
They’re both listed as questionable due to hamstring injuries sustained in the third preseason game against Seattle. That’s the same game in which standout cornerback Casey Hayward injured his hamstring. Hayward was ruled out on Wednesday.
Burnett, who was one of just four non-offensive linemen in the NFL to play every snap last season, did not practice while Jones was listed as limited participation.
“Morgan Burnett and Brad both came in today with some hamstring soreness,” coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. “We’ll see how it goes. We’re being smart with those guys.”
If Burnett is out, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian would be the starting tandem.
“Both of us are ready,” Jennings said. “We played a lot of snaps last year. I think it’ll be our first time just playing together besides the preseason. I think both of us are ready, but I think Morgan will be ready to go. He looked pretty good this week at practice.”
Burnett, the team’s second-leading tackler last season, would be a big loss not just from a personnel perspective. He’s also the unit’s top communicator.
“He’s been our quarterback but those guys understand that that’s part of their job description,” Capers said. “They’ve got to be great communicators. They set things based off of formations, motion, shifting, all those things. Their plates are full from a communication standpoint.”
At inside linebacker, Jamari Lattimore is listed second on the depth chart but Robert Francois replaced Jones when he was out last week. Francois was the player mentioned by defensive coordinator Dom Capers on Friday. He presumably would be the linebacker if the Packers use their dime package.
“Robert Francois has really grown in pretty much every aspect of his professional being,” McCarthy said. “He’s a different linebacker today than when he was when he arrived here. The opportunity now to focus in on one position, I think, has really helped him. We played him both outside and inside (in 2010, 2011 and start of 2012). He’s always been a tough, hard-nosed football player. He’s done a very good job on special teams. Utility player for us – smart, tough, love having him on our team.”
Packers injury report
Out: CB Casey Hayward (hamstring). Questionable: S Morgan Burnett (hamstring), ILB Brad Jones (hamstring). Probable: CB Jarrett Bush (ankle).
This is a key time for Burentt, Jones and everyone on the team.
“Really talking about the whole team, you get to that point (where) it’s 48 hours,” McCarthy said. “It’s important for everybody to get themselves ready to play the game. It’s something we’ve always stressed: When you get off the field on Fridays, the opportunity now to physically get ready. So, hopefully, it’s no more than that (for Jones and Burnett).”
49ers injury report
Questionable: CB Nnamdi Asomugha (collarbone; limited participation), RB LaMichael James (knee; did not participate).
James' designation is curious given even he said he's out for a couple of weeks.
-- Capers, on how much last year’s playoff game was on his mind in the offseason: “Anytime you have an opener, you’re going to prepare for that opener, so our focus has been on trying to put together the best plan and go play the best we can against this team in the opener. You can’t let it linger in your mind. Every week’s a new game and obviously we’re disappointed in the way we played there, but we’re looking forward to the challenge this week.”
-- Mike Neal will play at outside linebacker and pass-rushing defensive lineman, even though much of the focus has been on his play at linebacker. “When you look through the preseason, he probably played the same number of snaps outside as he did inside,” Capers said. “That’s kind of the way we planned it. He’s going to be that typical hybrid guy. At the end of the season, you might see him playing as much inside as he does outside.”
-- McCarthy, on fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari getting the start at left tackle: “I think the obvious with David is he’s played every snap in preseason. What he’s able to do is on film and that’s fine. There’s going to be a number of rookies out there playing for the first time. David is playing against a premier player in Aldon Smith. I have great confidence in him. Once again, it’s a team game in the fact he just has to do his role and play his position.”
-- McCarthy again kept open the option of using Marshall Newhouse in some sort of rotation at offensive tackle.
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